How does one measure one’s effectiveness is working with people – particularly when the activity is spiritual? The Missionaries did this by counting the numbers of people who came to confession and communion as an indication.

The pastor of Brignoles was dissatisfied with the number of people who came to Communion at Easter, after the mission. Eugene’s response shows that he does not play “the numbers game.” The Missionaries were realistic and were grateful for any fruits of their preaching, no matter how small.

Allow me to quote you the following incident, in order to soften the pain that you rightly feel at the defection of a great number of your parishioners. One of the most respectable pastors of Marseilles, after noticing all the good that came to his parishioners during the mission, said to our Missionaries: “I am very happy at the present good result; but I will be very happy if five percent continue; then I would not consider our efforts lost”. –
Six months later, beaming with joy, he told us: “I am more happy than I had hoped; for your return mission you will still find more than 15. And what did he not do to achieve this result?”
And so, according to your figuring, you are much better off than he, since, by your admission, you found 50 percent at Easter; and you would undoubtedly have had more, if you had been able to get a sixth priest you were asking for at that time, for you were not able to take care of all the great number of penitents with your four assistants.

Letter to the Pastor of Brignoles, 23 August 1821, EO XIII n. 39


“I like criticism. It makes you strong.”         LeBron James

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The ‘numbers game’ – we all seem to play it at one time or another. We seem to need to somehow measure, our worth, another’s, a job done, wealth amassed, the number of friends surrounding us. Who are we, who am I trying to compete with? I find myself saying at this moment in time “I am enough in who I am, just as I am.” Wow, how awesome is our God? In moments like this morning I see how futile and false the competition is, and how unsatisfying, but later on today I may just find myself measuring and playing the numbers game without even realising it.

    It is my experience that I am not able to truthfully say the affect that I personally have on anyone (or for that matter God working through me). There might be times when someone will tell me, or times when I know intuitively how I might have touched someone, but for the most part it’s pretty well vague in a way – if I stop to try and count then it becomes all about me instead of God, or you, or another. There are times when I need to rely on another to point out or remind of the gift of God in my life – just as Eugene did with this pastor from Brignoles. I can learn much from him. Again I find myself starting this day in gratitude, for Eugene then and now, for all of the Eugene’s in my life.

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